Saturday, 30 July 2011

Recipe: Summer Chicken and Chickpea Stew

I made this dish a couple of weeks ago, but have only just got round to blogging about it. I suddenly had inspiration to concoct something of my own design after a long, dry spell. Have I mentioned how much I love one-pot cooking? This is possibly related to the fact that we don't own a dishwasher.

My fiancé and I both thought it was very tasty, so here is the recipe should you want to recreate it in your own home.

Serves 4


Olive oil
1 large onion (I used red onion because it was all I had, but I'm sure white would work just as well), chopped
2 large cloves garlic, crushed
1 red pepper, chopped
1 medium aubergine
2 free range chicken breasts, diced
300ml chicken stock
1 400g can tinned tomatoes
2 table spoons tomato puree
1 teaspoon dried thyme (fresh herbs could be used, but I didn't have any...)
a pinch of dried chilli flakes
salt and pepper
1 400g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed


1) Heat a little oil in a large pan. Fry onions over a medium heat for a few minutes until starting to soften.

2) Add garlic and pepper and fry for a couple of minutes.

3) Add chicken and cook over a medium-high heat until starting to brown.

4) While the chicken is cooking chop the aubergine (it is important not to chop beforehand as aubergine oxidises very quickly - if you prefer to prepare your aubergine by 'salting' or 'relaxing' it, you will need to prepare it beforehand. Me, I can't be arsed.) and then add to the pan.

5) Cook until chicken and aubergine are cooked all the way through.

6) Add chicken stock, tinned tomato, tomato puree, dried thyme and chilli flakes. Season to taste. Bring to the boil and then turn down the heat and simmer, partially covered by a lid, for about 20 minutes.

7) Add chickpeas. You can also add some more water if it's starting to look a little dry. Simmer for another 10 minutes.

8) Serve with some nice bread.

Bon appetit!

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Restaurant review: Mount Fuji - Birmingham

I must have written this review ages ago and then forgotten about it. I only discovered it among my Word files because I have recently got a new laptop, so I have been moving things across from my old hard drive. Anyway, on with the review...!

A few yards from Jamie’s Italian in Birmingham, there is a rather underrated Japanese restaurant called Mount Fuji

Before I dined in Mount Fuji I’d never really tried Japanese food (I don’t think Marks and Spencer’s sushi really counts...) and I didn’t know what Bento was. Essentially, it’s a lunch box – a meal in a box. I have had several bento boxes at Mount Fuji now and they have all been delicious, interesting and nutritionally balanced: the meat and rice is served with equal amounts of vegetables and salad. I love the organisation and the aesthetics of the compartments of the box – it makes your meal feel a little like a picnic or a buffet.

And that reflects the atmosphere of Mount Fuji – Japanese food served simply in an informal setting. The high bar-stool-type chairs and the long counters give the restaurant the air of a coffee shop or diner. The food is generally brought out as and when it is ready and it works well to order several different things from the menu and share with friends. 

Favourites from the menu include the vegetable tempura – coated in paper-thin batter and served with a sweet chilli dipping sauce, a light and flavourful starter perfect for sharing; the sushi must be tried particularly if you’ve never had genuine Japanese sushi before; and the freshly made desserts are definitely worth a go – I like the giant profiterole filled with matcha cake, cream and ice cream.

The service is quite informal to match the informal style of eating that this restaurant provides and staff are polite and usually attentive. The kitchen is an open kitchen in the middle of the restaurant so you can watch the chefs at work!

Mount Fuji is truly an experience not to be missed.